Theyâ€™re off to the races! The runners cross the starting line and head past Pariseau Field for the start of the second annual PawSox 5K on Saturday at McCoy Stadium. The overall winner was Demesse Tefera of New York, N.Y. (far left) and the womenâ€™s winner was Hirut Beyene of New York, N.Y. (front row, third from left). PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN
PAWTUCKET â€” Megan Jaswell was a little disappointed she was unable to defend her womenâ€™s title at Saturdayâ€™s PawSox 5K, but that didnâ€™t wipe the winning smile off her face after completing the second annual race at McCoy Stadium.
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â€śEvery race is completely different, and you can never expect to do as well as you did in the last one,â€ť said Jaswell. â€śBut this is a fun race, and itâ€™s nice to come out and support something good like this.â€ť
The other 310 runners and walkers that circled the stadiumâ€™s warning track for the final 0.2 of a mile and crossed the finish line near the Pawtucket Red Soxâ€™s third base dugout also felt the same way Jaswell did and seemed more than happy to help make this yearâ€™s event a repeat success.
The proceeds from the 3.1-mile race, which took place under a cloudy sky and in humid conditions, again benefited the PawSox Charitable Foundation, as well as two new charities, the Wounded Warrior Project and the R.I. Veterans Home, and the morningâ€™s overall success certainly pleased race director Augusto â€śCookieâ€ť Rojas Jr.
â€śI thought it went great,â€ť said the PawSox General Sales Manager, who also took part in the race and finished in a 22:59 time that was good for 34th place and a 64-second improvement from his finish in last yearâ€™s event. â€śWe implemented a lot of things that the runners wanted last year and everything worked out well.â€ť
Everything didnâ€™t work out too well for last yearâ€™s winners, Providenceâ€™s Geoff Nelson and Jaswell, who both had off-races and were unable to come close to duplicating their strong times from a year ago.
But even if they matched their times, they would have still been hard-pressed to catch this yearâ€™s winners, Ethiopian natives and New York City residents Demesse Tefera and Hirut Beyene.
Tefera, a member of the prestigious New York Road Runners who boasts an impressive resume that includes several victories ranging from 5Ks to the Carlsbad Marathon in 2001 in California, was all by himself throughout the race and ended up winning it with an outstanding 15:22 time.
â€śI ran an easy pace,â€ť said Tefera, who clocked 4:57 miles on the mostly flat course that featured minor hills at the start (on the side road parallel to Pariseau Field) and the 2.4-mile mark. â€śThis race is nice, and the course is a very good course.â€ť
Nelson, who won last yearâ€™s race with a 15:44 clocking, was more than a minute slower and finished a distant second to Tefera in 16:50, but hot on his heels for most of the race was Beyene, who took third overall in a 17:03 time. She outdistanced the next female finisher, Providenceâ€™s Katie Moulton of the Rhode Runner club, by 49 seconds, as Moulton finished fifth overall.
As for Jaswell, a native of Johnston who captured last Octoberâ€™s Amica Marathon in addition to the inaugural PawSox race, she was the third female across the finish line. She was also 11th overall in a 19:36 time that was 19 seconds slower than her 2012 finish.
â€śTheyâ€™re great runners,â€ť Jaswell said of Tefera and Beyene. â€śI had an off-day, donâ€™t get me wrong, but they were just so great. At least if (Nelson and I) were going to get beat, get beat by someone thatâ€™s that good.â€ť
The weekend was a very profitable one for Tefera and Beyene. In addition to each winning $250 and a prize package worth $375 for winning the race, the two stayed overnight in Rhode Island and headed to Warren on Sunday morning to run in the Finish for a Guinness 5K. There, they were also the menâ€™s and womenâ€™s top finishers, and for their efforts, they each took home $200, plus an addition $100 for setting course records.
As for the PawSox race, taking fourth place in 17:08 was Lincoln resident Chris Lawrence, a member of the Boston Athletic Association running club. Riversideâ€™s Paul Savickas, who finished fourth in last yearâ€™s race in a 19:14 time, settled for fifth place in 19:10, and Pawtucketâ€™s Fabio Figueiredo (19:14) and Matthew Price (19:17) took the next two spots.
Among the age group winners were Nelson (menâ€™s 20-29), Jaswell (womenâ€™s 20-29), Figueiredo (menâ€™s 30-39), Moulton (womenâ€™s 30-39), Lawrence (menâ€™s 40-49), Cumberland High girlsâ€™ cross country and track coach Joyce Bonner (womenâ€™s 50-59), Jaswellâ€™s mother, Theresa Jaswell (womenâ€™s 60-69), and Pawtucketâ€™s Linda Dewing (womenâ€™s 70-plus).
Lincolnâ€™s Chuck Hyson (menâ€™s 70-plus) and Price (menâ€™s 30-39) were the local runners who placed second in their age groups, and Ashley Bricault and Hannah Tavares, who are both seniors on the Cumberland High girlsâ€™ cross country team, finished 2-3 in the girlsâ€™ 19-under division.
Follow Eric Benevides on Twitter @EricBen24